A series of roadblocks and transitions led Amber Klassen (Burenheide) to a successful career and a powerful story.
Amber founded ABChickens her freshman year of high school. She began with 200 broiler chickens and grew it to 1,800 broiler chickens by her senior year of college. She also added custom processing to her business portfolio, processing as many as 3,000 birds.
As she grew ABChickens, she continued to incorporate technical skills she acquired from her family’s poultry operation and business skills she learned through the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship program at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln, a program that remains influential in her life today.
“My freshman year, I took Engler 101, and that was pretty much a sealed deal after that class.”
Eventually, Amber had to make a decision about her business: expand and excel ABChickens or get another job. She found a job she truly enjoyed, but it required her to travel frequently. Consequently, she wasn’t able to be actively involved in her poultry operation.
“So then I landed into a different opportunity that went right along with ABChickens.”
A hatchery near Madison, Nebraska, needed help raising laying stock.
“Down the road, there was going to be an opportunity to buy it. Little did I know, as much as the opportunity was there, it wasn’t there. He never really committed to selling it to us. It was more of a conversation and that’s all it stayed.”
Unfortunately, Amber had quit her job in anticipation of buying the operation. It was a complete failure in her mind.
“Everyone else had these huge success stories. Everyone was excelling and here I went and told the first story out of everyone that I failed.”
But once she admitted her failure to the Engler staff and her Engler peers, she said it was much easier to accept the outcome and use it as motivation.
“The people in the program gave you a lot of support to give you different ideas or admit that it wasn’t a failure, it was just a roadblock and it was on to the next thing. And I didn’t realize it right away until the next opportunity came, and then I realized I was where I was supposed to be. I just couldn’t see it coming.”
That opportunity for success came with Jord Producers. Today, Amber serves as the Operations Manager for Jord Producers. The company is comprised of three women – Amber, Cheryl Powers and Kris Vrooman – who raise and sell mealworms to poultry producers across the Midwest.
“I gutted an old farrowing barn east of Lindsay, and now we have vertical towers of beetles, mealworms and eggs… We have current customers, and they continue to grow.”
Amber says her team’s goal is to launch the e-commerce portion of their business by the end of the year.
Learn more about Amber Klassen (Burenheide) and the Engler Agribusiness Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln here.